Thursday, January 31, 2008

Israel Adds Ethiopian Sigd Festival To List Of National Holidays

Sources: Israel National News and Israel public holidays. Yesterday, the Knesset (Israel's Parliament) voted in favor of recognizing the Ethiopian Sigd festival as a national holiday in the State of Israel. The bill will next be voted upon by the Knesset’s Labor and Welfare Committee. The holiday will henceforth be celebrated in the Hebrew month of Heshvan, and those observing it will, by law, be granted a vacation day.

Jordan Extends Snow And Ice Public Holiday

Sources: The Jordan Times and Jordan public holidays. Prime Minister, Nader Dahabi, said in a statement that government agencies and official organization would be closed for a second day, on Thursday, January 31, 2008. The private sector is expected to follow. Universities will also be closed, and schools are currently on school term holidays.

In compensation for today's and yesterday's unscheduled public holidays, the government has announced that Saturday, February 2, 2008, usually part of the weekend in Jordan, will be a regular working day.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Jordan Declares Ice And Snow Public Holiday

Sources: Agence France Presse and Jordan public holidays. The Government of Jordan has declared today, Wednesday, January 30, 2008, a public holiday, due to the current snow and ice storms that have battered many countries of the Middle East, and have closed access roads to Amman, the capital of Jordan.

Mongolian Controversy Over Upcoming Tsagaan Sar Public Holiday

Sources: Newswire (Ulaanbaatar) and Mongolia public holidays. Mongolia's general public has recently been confused as to whether Mongolia should celebrate the new year public holiday of Tsagaan Sar (White Moon or White Month) on February 7 or 8, 2008.

The government-sanctioned religious authorities of the Gandan Tegchenling Monastery assert that Tsagaan Sar should occur on February 8, while another astrologer, D. Dashtseren, predicts February 7, validating his claim with the argument that “If [Tsagaan Sar is] celebrated on February 8, sufferings may prevail in three years”.

Unimpressed, the Bank of Mongolia has listed February 8 as the official Tsagan Sar public holiday, adding a 4th day, on February 11, for good measure.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

France Restores Whit Monday Public Holiday

Sources: Agence France Presse and France public holidays. Earlier today, France's Labour Minister, Xavier Bertrand, confirmed that Le lundi de Pentecôte (Whit Monday) will be restored as a fully national public holiday in France, starting this year, in 2008. The change will apply as well to all DOM-TOMs (French overseas territories and administrative regions). The Whit Monday public holiday had been cancelled from 2005 to 2007 (see our background post on the subject).

In addition, due to the extremely early date of Easter in 2008, Whit Monday, on May 12, will follow the Thursday, May 8, public holiday, meaning that one can expect many, if not most, offices to be deserted on Friday, May 9, 2008, as French white-collar workers enjoy one of their beloved ponts (bridge holiday).

Belgium Announces May 2 and November 10 Bridge Public Holidays

Sources: RTL Info and Belgium public holidays. The long saga of the status of May 2, 2008, in Belgium (see our posts of January 10 and April 24) experienced another twist. Late last week, Labour Minister, Josly Piette, announced that May 2, 2008, will be the official day off to compensate for the conjunction of Labour Day and Ascension Day in 2008, unless a specific other date is agreed to branch-by-branch (until February 15) or company-by-company (after February 15).

This means that most businesses, and government services, will be closed on May 2, 2008. In addition, federal civil servants and those contractually assimilated to civil servants, will get Monday, November 10, 2008, as a one-off bridge public holiday.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Lebanon Declares Monday National Day Of Mourning

Sources: New York Times and Lebanon public holidays. Following the deadly clashes that erupted in Beirut, leaving at least seven people dead, earlier today, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora declared Monday, January 28, 2008, a national day of mourning, closing schools and universities for the day.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Thailand: No Public Holiday On March 3

Sources: The Nation (Bangkok) and Thailand public holidays. Thailand's Electoral Commission (EC) has announced that, contrary to recent practice, it would not ask the government to declare a public holiday on Monday, March 3, 2008, the day after the senatorial election day.

The EC felt it needed to make this announcement, as in recent national elections and referenda, Thailand had always declared the day after the polls (always held on a Sunday) as a public holiday to allow people the time to return from their home villages to the cities where they work (one must vote in one's home village, in Thailand).

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Ecuador Announces Carnival Public Holiday Compensation Days

Sources: El Mercurio and Ecuador public holidays. The Office of the President of Ecuador issued a communique confirming that as per Presidential Decree 418-2 (our post of June 20, 2007), the days of Saturday February 9 and 16, 2008, would be normal working days for all sectors of the economy, be it private or public, in compensation for the February 4-5, 2008, Carnival public holidays.

Argentine Bill To Make International Women's Day A Public Holiday

Sources: Argentina's Parliamentary News Agency and Argentina public holidays. A bill has recently been introduced to the Argentine Legislature by Senator Haide Giri and Representatives Pedro Salvatori, María Colombo, Fabián Ríos and Carlos Rossi. This bill, if passed, would make March 8, International Women's Day a new public holiday in Argentina.

The proponents of this bill face an uphill battle, considering the general sentiment, in Argentina, that there are already enough public holidays, and the fact that if a new public holiday was to be declared, then a return of Carnival (the only remaining public holiday, abolished by the military junta, and which has not yet been restored) would be a clear first choice.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Gambia Election Public Holiday Today

Sources: The Gambian Journal and Gambia public holidays. A public holiday has unexpectedly been declared in The Gambia, today, on the occasion of today's Local Government Elections, in a move intended to discourage any voter apathy.

Turkmenistan Cancels Niyazov Birthday Public Holiday

Sources: The International Herald Tribune and Turkmenistan public holidays. The president of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, has abolished a public holiday honoring the birthday of his predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, whose February 19 birthday was one of Turkmenistan's most important public holidays.

Note, however, that Saparmurat Niyazov had the forethought to create another public holiday, also on February 19, called Flag Day, which will not be cancelled. This mean that those who wish to continue to celebrate Saparmurat Niyazov's birthday will continue to have a day off to do so.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Malaysia Adds Thaipusam To State Public Holidays Of Kuala Lumpur And Putrajaya

Sources: Bernama and Malaysia public holidays. As was expected, following his statement of last night, Malaysia's Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, announced an hour ago that Malaysia's Government had declared Thaipusam a public holiday in the federal territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, from this year onward. Thaipusam, which was until now a public holiday in Selangor, Penang, Perak, Negeri Sembilan and Johor, will occur on Wednesday January 23, in 2008.

Note that Kuala Lumpur is Malaysia's federal capital and its economic centre, and that the stock exchange, the central depository, the central bank and all banks will be closed and as such, there will be no trading, clearing and settlement activities on this date.

Malaysia Considers Making Upcoming Thaipusam A Full National Public Holiday

Sources: The Malaysia Star and Malaysia public holidays. Speaking at the Ponggal festival at Jalan Masjid India, yesterday, Malaysia's Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, said that he would consider making Thaipusam, which will occur on Wednesday, January 23, this year in Malaysia, into a full national public holiday (currently Thaipusam is only a Stat public holiday in Selangor, Penang, Perak, Negri Sembilan and Johor).

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Bhutan March 24 Elections Public Holiday

Sources: Kuensel and Bhutan public holidays. The date for Bhutan's upcoming General Elections has been set for Monday, March 24, 2008. The ECB (Electoral Commission of Bhutan) has confirmed that that that date had been declared a public holiday in Bhutan, as stipulated by Bhutan's Election Bill (see our post of September 1, 2007).

Note that, originally, there were to be 2 election dates, the first, a primary, in February, followed by a run-off election in March, between the 2 parties with the most votes. However, as only 2 parties have presented themselves for these elections, there will be no need for a primary election in February.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Barbados One-Off Public Holiday On January 18

Sources: Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation and Barbados public holidays. Following his victory in Tuesday's elections, Barbados’ sixth Prime Minister, David Thompson, took the oath of office Wednesday evening, and immediately declared a one-off public holiday on Friday, January 18, 2008. Note that Monday, January 21, 2008, is an annual public holiday, so that Barbados will enjoy a 4-day weekend.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Nepal Considering Edmund Hilllary Public Holiday

Sources: National News Agency Nepal and Nepal public holidays. New Zealand is not the only country to be considering a public holiday to honour the late Sir Edmund Hillary (our post of January 12). Two influential voices in Nepal have recently gone on record, in favor of an Edmund Hillary public holiday in Nepal.

Speaking about the upcoming renaming of the Lukla Airport as the ‘Hillary-Tenzing Airport’, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Prithvi Subba Gurung, stated that "he would also make effort to give one day public holiday [for the] late Hillary". Presumably, this one-off public holiday would occur next week, on the occasion of Edmund Hillary's, January 22, State Funeral.

For its part, the president of the Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN), Jyoti Adhikari, urged the government to declare May 29 as the International Mount Everest Day.

India Moves Upcoming Muharram Public Holiday

Sources: Press Information Bureau Government of India and India public holidays. The Government of India has moved its observance of the upcoming Muharram public holiday, from Saturday, January 19, to Sunday, January 20, 2008. While this announcement, technically, only applies to the Delhi/New Delhi Central Government administrative offices, such changes are never initiated by the Indian Government, without some justification from the Indian Sufi Muslim religious authorities. Therefore, this change, which is in line with the one recently announced in Pakistan, is expected to be the norm throughout the parts of India where Muharram is a public holiday.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

UAE Considering Another One-Off Public Holiday On January 16

Sources: Gulf News and UAE public holidays. With the UAE National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology expecting the heavy rains of today to continue till Wednesday afternoon, there are reports that the UAE government is considering declaring another one-off public holiday, for tomorrow, Wednesday, January 16, 2008, barely 48 hours after the one declared on the occasion of President Bush's visit on Monday.

For the moment, all schools and universities have been closed for 2 days, the major roads in Sharjah have been completely flooded, and work at many construction sites in Sharjah and Ajman have been stopped due to the rain.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Bahrain Declares January 20-21 Government Holiday

Sources: Bahrain News Agency and Bahrain public holidays. Earlier today, Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa Bin Salman al Khalifa issued a circular concerning the upcoming Ashura public holiday. The circular confirms the Ashura dates of Friday and Saturday, January 18-19, 2008, but as these fall of the 2 weekly weekend days of Bahrain, Government Ministries and establishments will get 2 extra days off work, on Sunday and Monday, January 20-21, 2008, as compensation.

UAE Declares January 14 One-Off Public Holiday

Sources: Arabian Business and UAE publuc holidays. The state news agency Wam reported that a public holiday has been declared for all businesses in Dubai on Monday, January 14, 2008, as authorities tighten security for US president George W. Bush’s visit to the emirate. All ministries, government departments, schools and private companies in Dubai will be shut due to the closure of a number of main roads across the city.

New Zealand Urged To Declare Edmund Hillary Public Holiday

Source: New Zealand Herald and New Zealand public holidays. Following the death of Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to reach the top of Mount Everest, and arguably the best-known New Zealander, there have been calls for a public holiday in his honour.

Some of the ideas floated about are: a new public holiday on May 29 (the anniversary of his 1953 climb), renaming the existing Waitangi Day public holiday, or the naming of one of New Zealand's mountains. For its part, the Green party is calling for an annual public holiday on the nearest Monday to Sir Edmund's July 20th birthday, arguing that it is right in the middle of winter, and that there is a really long gap, without any public holidays, between Queen’s birthday weekend and Labour Day weekend. Finally, New Zealand's largest private sector union, the EPMU, wants 22 January, 2008, the date of the official State funeral, to be a one-off public holiday.

Creating a Sir Edmund Hillary day would likely need parliament to change the Holidays Act, and for the moment, Prime Minister Helen Clark said she had given "no consideration", yet, to a public holiday, while Bronwyn Dalley, chief historian for the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, said there was no precedent for a public holiday for a notable New Zealander.

However, the same lack of historical precedent existed, before 1992, when Sir Edmund Hillary was asked to give permission for his likeness to be used on the $5 note - the first living New Zealander so honoured (contrary to what has been reported elsewhere recently, it is the $5 bill that features Edmund Hillary; the $10 bill portrays the suffrage leader Kate Sheppard).

Switzerland's Zurich Canton Considering Scrapping May 1st Public Holiday

Sources: Tages Anzeiger (Zürich) and Switzerland public holidays. The leader of the SVP parliamentary group, Alfred Heer, has steered a bill through that would remove May 1st from the list of public holidays in the Canton of Zürich. The lost day would be compensated by a "joker-holiday" which could be taken at anytime by employees (and would allow parents to make it coincide with one of their children's 2 "joker" school holidays).

Reasons put forth for this bill include the assertion that the spirit of May 1st has become perverted, and that the Left has done nothing to avoid the holiday being taken over by extremists and hate-mongers. In addition, surrounding cantons are open on May 1st, meaning that business flows away from Zürich on that day.

Opposition parties are squarely against this reform and, having lost the parliamentary vote, are likely to try to force a referendum on the issue.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Nepal Sets New Date For Constituent Assembly Elections

Sources: Nepal News and Nepal public holidays. The Constituent Assembly Elections that were to take place in May 2007, then in November 2007, but were postponed both times, have been rescheduled for Thursday, April 10, 2008. As a public holiday was planned on the 2 previous occasions, and the days after the weekend, the 13th and 14th of April are already public holidays, we think that it is quite likely that Nepal will declare a public holiday on April 10, 2008.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Bulgaria Public Holidays From May 1 To May 6

Sources: Bulgaria Travel Directory and Bulgaria public holidays. As we had been forecasting since last summer, the government of Bulgaria announced yesterday that it had declared 2 bridge public holidays, one on Friday, May 2, and one on Monday, May 5, 2008. The declaration of these bridge holidays, when combined with the Labour Day public holiday on May 1st, the Saint George/Army Day public holiday, on Tuesday, May 6, and the weekend of May 3-4, means that Bulgaria will enjoy 6 consecutive days of holidays, from May 1 to May 6, 2008.

UK's PM In Favour Of New Public Holiday

Sources: The Daily Mail, and UK public holidays. Speaking on GMTV, earlier this week, Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, said he would look at ideas for an extra bank holiday (recall that in the UK, public holidays when everything is closed, are called bank holidays, as opposed to most of the rest of the world where the term "bank holidays" means a day when only banks and financial establishments are closed).

The most likely candidates, at this time, are: British Forces Day (Monday closest to Armistice Day), April 23 (St George's Day as well as being Shakespeare's birthday), July 5 (anniversary of the birth of the NHS), and July 24 (Volunteers' Day, also touted as "Britishness Day").

More frivolous suggestions have included: Beatles Day on February 9 (the day the band first played at the Cavern Club) and Diana Day (on the Monday closest to Diana Spencer's birthday on July 1).

Recall that over the last 12 months, there have been many calls for a new UK public holiday, based on the fact that, at 9 public holidays, the UK are in second to last place in the EU, and the long gap between the summer bank holiday, in August, and Christmas (see our posts of December 26, August 28, July 24, and June 27). For that reason, the most likely (and also the one specifically mentioned by name by Gordon Brown) option would be to make the Monday after/nearest to November 11 a public holiday.

Philippines Declares January 15-16 Regional Public Holidays

Sources: Philippine Information Agency and Philippines public holidays. Through Proclamation No. 1441, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (PGMA) declared January 15, 2008, as a special non-working day in San Pablo City in Laguna, to enjoy the celebration of the feast of Saint Paul, the First Hermit. Note that coinciding with the feast of their patron saint is the annual holding of San Pablo City's Coconut Festival and Mardi Gras Contest.

Issued on the same day, Proclamation No. 1443, declares January 16, 2008, as special non-working day in Batangas City to honor and commemorate the feast of its patron saint, Sto. Niño.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Togo Cancels January 13th Public Holiday

Sources: Ghanaian Chronicle (Accra) and Togo public holidays. A press statement released last night from the office of government Spokesman, Pascal Bodjona, in Lome announced that the government has suspended the celebration of the 13th of January as a national holiday. The official statement went on to say that, henceforth, the 13th of January would be celebrated in the military barracks only.

Belgium Cancels Upcoming May 2 Public Holiday

Sources: De Standaard (Antwerp) and Belgium public holidays. Belgium's interim (only until Easter) Federal Minister of Labor, Josly Piette, announced yesterday that May 2, 2008, will not be an official public holiday, thereby cancelling last April's decision by his predecessor, Peter Vanvelthoven (see our post of April 24, 2007). May 2, 2008, Ascension Friday, will therefore revert to its usual status as a banks-only holiday. Recall that, last April, Belgium's Minister of Labor had decided to make Friday, May 2, 2008, a public holiday as compensation for the fact that both May Day and Ascension fall on the same date.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Angola's National Culture Day Suggested As Public Holiday

Sources: Angola Press and Angola public holidays. Yesterday, Luanda's regional culture minister, Manuel Sebastião, was quoted as saying that he was in favor of adding January 8th (National Culture Day) to the list of Angola's public holidays.

This comes 3 days after news was released that the Angolan Cabinet Council approved, in one of its sessions in 2007, the methodological norms of organisation and commemoration of the national holidays, confirming as national holidays the dates of 4 January (Colonial Repression Martyrs' Day), 4 February (Day of the Start of the National Liberation Struggle against colonialism), 4 April (Peace and National Reconciliation Day), 17 September (National Hero`s Day), and 11 November (National Independence Day).

Palestine's Gaza Strip Government Announces Christmas Public Holiday

Sources: Ikhwanweb (Gaza) and West Bank and Gaza public holidays. The Hamas government of the Gaza Strip has declared that the Christmas days will henceforth be public and official holiday in the Gaza Strip.

The timing of the announcement (the day after Orthodox Christmas)as well as wording of the declaration (note the plural used in "Christmas Days") are ambiguous and could lead one to believe that both western and Orthodox Christmases will become public holidays in the Gaza Strip, as they have been in the West Bank, since 1996.

Philippines Declares January 10 Regional Public Holiday In Koronadal City

Sources: Philippine Information Agency and Philippines public holidays. Through Proclamation No. 1440, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (PGMA) declared January 10, 2008, as a special non-working day in Koronadal City, South Cotabato, to mark its Foundation Day.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Iraq Moves Islamic New Year To January 9

Sources: Iraq's Secretariat of the Council of Ministers and Iraq public holidays. Late tonight, the Secretariat of the Council of Ministers announced that tomorrow, Wednesday, January 9, 2008, will be the first day of the new Hijri year 1429, and as such an official public holiday in Iraq. Note that this announcement is at odds with most of the states of the Middle East, where Hijri New Year has been declared for January 10.

Azerbaijan School Holidays Extended 3 Days Due To Cold Weather

Sources: Azeri Press Agency and Azerbaijan public holidays. In an announcement similar to that of Iran (our post of January 6), the Minister of Education, has signed an order to extend the holiday period for schools and preschools by 3 days, so that there would be no school on January 7, 8 and 9. The decision does not apply to special vocational schools and universities.

Oman Announces Different Islamic New Year Holiday For Private And Public Sectors

Sources: Khaleej Times and Oman public holidays. The Ministry of Avqaf and Religious Affairs has announced that Wednesday, January 9, 2008, would be Hijra new year 1429, and the day has been declared a holiday for government employees. Private sector workers, on the other hand will retain the previously announced date of Thursday, January 10, for their Hijra new year holiday.

Philippines Declares January 9 Regional Public Holidays

Sources: Philippines Information Agency and Philippines public holidays. Wednesday, January 9 has been proclaimed as a legal Muslim holiday in Region 12. All city government employees (muslims and non-muslims) will be excused from work on the occasion of the Islamic New Year. Muslim legal holidays in Regions 9 and 12 are proclaimed by virtue of Presidential Decree 1083 and Civil Service Commission Resolution No. 81.1277 dated November 13, 1981.

In unrelated news, January 9 has also been declared a special non-working holiday in Pangasinan to mark the celebration of Pangasinan Veterans' Day in that province, as institutionalized by virtue of Republic Act (RA) 6721 signed into law by former President Corazon Aquino on April 20, 1989.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Iran's Capital Declares 2-Day Bad Weather Holiday

Sources: Press TV and Iran public holidays. All government offices, schools and universities will be closed on Monday and Tuesday, January 7 and 8, 2008, as the temperature is expected to fall as low as minus 11 degrees Celsius in the Iranian capital of Tehran. But presidential and ministerial offices, banks and medical centers will remain open.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Sudan's Capital State Extends Weekends To Fridays And Saturdays

Sources: New Sudan Vision and Sudan public holidays. Starting on January 12, 2008, Khartoum State weekends for both public and private sectors will be 2-day long; Fridays and Saturdays.

This decision is not a national unity government decision but one by the Khartoum state government under its governor, cabinet and parliament. The Khartoum state experience will be evaluated by the national unity government, and if it is workable and appreciated, then the other states will adopt the law.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Belize Announces Unexpected 2008 Sovereign's Day Public Holiday Day In Lieu

Sources: Government of Belize Press Office and Belize public holidays. The Government of Belize has recently amended the list of 2008 public holidays that were originally specified in the Government Gazette of May 26, 2007. In particular, it has declared that, exceptionally, Monday, May 26, 2008, would be a one-off day in lieu public holiday, as the 2008 Sovereign's Day Public Holiday falls on a Saturday.

Usually, only public holidays that fall on a Sunday, warrant the declaration of a day in lieu (cf. First and the Second Schedules to the Holidays Act, Chapter 289 of the Laws of Belize, revised Edition 2003).

Liberia Information Minister Calls For Adding Muslim Public Holidays

Source: The Analyst (Monrovia) and Liberia public holidays. Liberia's Information Minister, Rev. Dr. Lawrence Bropleh, recently declared that he would support a move to add Muslim public holidays to the list of Liberia public holidays. No specific holidays were mentioned, but one would expect either the Eid al-Fitr, or Eid al-Adha (or both) holidays to be the ones under consideration.

Follow-up (January 12, 2008) Since the above-quoted statement, the President of Liberia and some cabinet ministers have come out strongly against the idea, and have made it clear that Reverend Bropleh was not speaking in any official capacity.

Jordan Moves Upcoming Islamic New Year Date

Sources: Jordan Times, Jordan Foreign Ministry, and Jordan public holidays. Prime Minister Nader Dahabi announced yesterday that despite last February's Royal decree, setting the Hijra New Year public holiday for Wednesday, January 9, this year's Islamic New Year would in fact be celebrated on Thursday, January 10, 2008.

This must have been a hasty, last-minute decision, as the posting on the foreign Ministry's web site announcing the January 10th date, is entitled "January 9th announced official holiday".

Since this represents a marked departure from the 5-year public holidays schedule published last year, we will be contacting the Foreign Ministry on Sunday morning (Jordan weekends are Fridays/Saturdays) to get clarification as to the status and expected validity of the aforementioned schedule of public holidays.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Kenya Bank Holiday Today

Sources: Reuters and Kenya public holidays. Due to continued civil unrest and lack of transportation to get staff on premises, the banks and financial institutions of Kenya have declared today, Thursday, January 3, 2008, a bank holiday in Kenya. Most banks and financial institutions will therefore not open today.